Initial review from Jason Calacanis - Sig #1

Initial review from Jason Calacanis - Sig #1

From Jason's Launch Ticker:

My mini review (in progress): I have seen a reaction like this before: when someone handed you a CD and then put Pink Floyd's the wall in a huge CD player in 1986, or when someone let you hold their iphone for the first time in 2007.
That's how people react when they're in the Tesla Model S. it's mind blowing.
[ Disclosure: Elon and I are friends. We both invested in each other's companies five or six years ago--long before I owned a Tesla. Our kids go to birthday parties together, we have dinner sometimes and we live near each other in Los Angeles. I'm far from objective as he's a close friend and I admire him deeply as a entrepreneur. Since Steve Jobs died I consider Elon the top entrepreneur on the planet--hands down. So, this review is objective about the car--but I'm biased since I know the man. Note: I had a small amount of Tesla stock (10k shares), and I sold them after they doubled. After driving the Model S I'm thinking of buying more. ]
Yesterday I got series #000000001. The first car available to the public. How did I get this car? It's a long story, but basically I sent a $50,000 deposit to Tesla *before* they started accepting deposits. I begged them to cash it. They did, and as Tesla Roadster owner 16 I was able to get the top slot (they gave the first 100 Roadster folks first shot at the Model S).
The huge center display in the car is so far beyond what you expect from a car it's confounding. I opened a Google Doc of the LAUNCH Ticker and watched folks editing it in real time. Then I had my iPhone's cover art in the dashboard HUD (the drivers), along with 1st person directions--all while having what feels like two ipads on top of each other in landscape in the center console.
You can maximize and flip windows better than on your iPad. I wish my iPad had the dual window function--and I'm certain Apple will steal the concept. It's that natural and obvious when you see it. Two windows, one iPad: go!
The acceleration is terrifying.
Literally. If you're a passenger not expecting it you're going to scream like you're on a roller coaster. Being in a sedan your brain expects to coast--which the S does well--but if the driver feels like laughing they can secretly push the pedal to the floor and silently the car pins passengers to their seats before they know what happened.
Then as the world starts to blur like you're in the Millenium Falcon, you're doing 50, 60, 70 or 90 in 3, 4, 5 and 6 seconds (I have the performance model). All with no sign of stopping.
The acceleration simply doesn't stop. SNM ('Someone not me') took it from 0 to 100 and almost stained the seats getting while getting on the freeway. Again, SNM.
You feel like you're going to hit 88 and go back In time when the flux capacitor kicks in. It's bizarre. It's otherworldly.
Then there are dozens of details you discover. The Frunk, which can fit your overnight bags. The center console, which can also fit an overnight bag. Each of four wheel wells that, you guessed it, can each hold an overnight bag.
Oh yeah, there is a huge trunk that can hold two kids in jump seats or a dozen more overnight bags. With no engine, unlike a normal car, there is a lot more room. It's an SUV in a sedan's clothing.
The storage is absurd.
Oh yeah, there are cute little crew ports hidden on the roof under tiny flippable covers for bike racks and ski racks--and who knows what else Tesla will dream up.
This is the future delivered early, and it sets a standard that will keep the CEOs of Toyota and Mercedes up at night. Perhaps that's why they invested $100M each in the company two years ago. They understood they simply can't catch this comet--so they might as well grab a piece.
This car will sell wildly beyond expectations like the iPhone and iPad did, and if Musk can make a $30K version it will become the Apple of cars.
best @jason (After 24 hours)

nickjhowe | August 12, 2012

You can find the Launch Ticker here:

Michael23 | August 12, 2012

Sweet review!

Brian H | August 12, 2012

It's almost obscene how much fun you must be having! Thanks for the brain dump. More please!

Jason S | August 12, 2012

"Each of four wheel wells that, you guessed it, can each hold an overnight bag." -- This made me laugh quite a bit. Thank you.

andex23 | August 13, 2012

Is it just me or did Tesla include an "Opportunity Console" in this car? The video seems to show a lipped storage location and Jason refers to it in his review as well. I always remembered that area as carpet.

JasonC | August 13, 2012

If you're referring to the center console between the passenger and driver Andex23, it is HUGE. You could put a (small) duffle bag in it!

Drove another 25 miles today and the person in the passenger seat said "i can feel the blood rushing to the back of my brain" when I hit the gas.

Having driven the Roadster for 3+ years/15k miles, I can tell you this is 1000x the car. Tesla has a HUGE hit on its hands. Huge.

Rod and Barbara | August 13, 2012

@ andex23 – We received delivery of our car on July 27. The lipped storage area between the front seats is not the “Opportunity Console.” It is the standard center console that comes with the car. Many of the Release Candidate cars used at the drive events have a ribbed bottom in this center space, but the production version is just plain black carpet on the floor of the console area. The lipped sides do keep things stored in that area from sliding out of the center console area.

Michael23 | August 13, 2012

I think the area is great for storage and the shelf is so useful. I test drove with stuff all over those areas and it stayed put. I'll use the pouch in front of seat for storing hidden things.

Brian H | August 13, 2012

The bidding is going up! Previous best was 100X the Roadster.

Geez, if I've said it once, I've said it 1.3253 million times: never exaggerate, people just discount it!


Robert22 | August 13, 2012

It sounds like seniors may need to be cleared medically before riding in the car :p

Electric Machete | August 14, 2012

I am very happy to see that Jason's personal impression of Elon and his capabilities are in line with what I have gleamed by watching and reading interviews. I own a much smaller amount of stock than Jason did, but bought it because I believe in the logic of this company and the man running it. I think this car will lead to a tipping point in automobile history. Perhaps not the Model S alone, but once the Model X is on the road and we are looking at Gen III and perhaps an affordable family model, then the mass market will see the inherent value of an electric car.

TikiMan | August 15, 2012

Thanks for posting your experence Jason, and Congradulations! | August 15, 2012

JasonC- I have enjoyed your posts. But how did you manage to "hit the GAS" in your 8/13 post?

(Sorry, couldn't resist :o)

Brian H | August 16, 2012

He just hasn't learned to call it the "goose pedal" yet. So you "goose it", "hit the goose", or "step on the goose". Or SLT. IMO

Vawlkus | August 16, 2012


ThomasN | August 16, 2012

Primary accelerator ;)

dborn | August 16, 2012

Torque pedal!!!

purrpleh | August 17, 2012


I am a reservation and stockholder holder and have been on the online Tesla journey for 2 1/2 years. I believe strongly in this company and drove RT 440 miles from Orlando for my test drive:

I drove the brown 85kw non performance model. Exterior fit and finish was very impressive, In my excitement, I forgot to ask whether the paint was metallic.

TEST AREA: combined local, boulevard, and small stretches of highway with an option to get on I95 for one exit.

Ride: The showroom is in an idustrial area and the road is rather bumpy. The air shocks and low profile 21" silver rims handled the bumps suprisingly well. The tires did not feel like rocks. Well Done Tesla.
Performance: Like many others...just great, the G-forces kick in and the car pulls its substantial weight extremely well. I was doing 79mph in a heartbeat and most importantly, the brakes are performers. No nose dive or squeal...just a prompt safe stop. The low center of gravity is all that is published. S bends were amazingly smooth, I was leaning more than the car.

Overall: Tesla has lived up to its claims, the car is everything I thought it would be.

Two areas of concern:
1. I believe Tesla has to rethink interior finishes. Not everyone wants Black and Gray. The tan leather is wonderful, but the dark interior finishes attract heat. Tesla needs to add ONE lighter colored option to address buyer tastes and the heat element for hot or warm climates. At first impression the non leather finishes look plastic-like and don't appear to meet the standard of a car in that price range. I think this is an area for improvement.
2. I intend to buy the 60kw battery model. Pricing appears to revolve around range, which makes sense...BUT, there should be more appeal in the mid range by adding a performance inverter otion...perhaps 0-60 in 5.0 seconds, combine it with the 21" wheels and air shocks. Tesla's success in selling the Model S will come in this and the lower range battery. Not everyone has 84k+ to spend. I pose this as a question for the engineers, marketers and bean counters.

I am anxious to hear from others who have test driven the car.

brianman | August 17, 2012


Observe that Brown is in the Metallic paint group.

Only white is present in multiple groups (Solid and Tesla Multi-Coat).

ChasF | August 17, 2012

Thanks for your review purrpleh. The positive reinforcement is welcome. I too live in Orlando and would love to compare notes in the future. What is "RT"? (Roadster?)
I missed my test drive at Dania Beach but hope to get another chance in October. :-(

ChasF | August 17, 2012

Nevermind... RT = Round Trip. Duh!

Michael37 | August 18, 2012

@purrpleh: Regarding your suggestion of a Performance model of the smaller-capacity pack. Keep in mind that performance is dictated by how much current can be drawn from the pack, which is in turn dictated by both the capacity of the inverter, and the ability of the pack to deliver current.

A larger pack, with more cells in parallel, can more readily deliver high current than a smaller pack.

So, it may be the case that the 60kWh pack is already delivering as much current as it can without doing damage to the cells.

I'm also a little confused by your comments regarding the leather. You said you think the tan is wonderful, but say that Tesla should offer a light-colored option. I've seen the tan and the grey, and they're both pretty light. What do you have in mind?

I think it would be nice if there were a lighter textile offering, and if getting textile didn't preclude you from getting the heated seats. I've had heated textile seats for the last 10 years in my RAV4-EV, and they're great, although I am honestly looking forward to leather in my Model S!

Osiris | August 18, 2012

Thx Jason, for this nice review. I can't wait to get my Signature Performance here in GER.

bsimoes | August 18, 2012

Having never had a car with leather seats, I'm wondering if the leather will require any special treatment. I've had handbags, that when stored in a drawer for a length of time, get a white dusting and stiffen up so that they are seemingly a bit brittle. I am getting the leather only because I want the lighter interior and the heated seats; I agree that if I could get these two things in fabric, I probably would.

jerry3 | August 18, 2012


The leather seats I've had in cars start cracking within a couple of years. You can buy products that help preserve the leather but they have a tendency to stain your clothes. In my opinion, leather and wood in cars are left over from when horses pulled carriages and shouldn't be in a modern automobile.

Leather is also hot and sticky in summer and cold and slippery in winter (that's why most cars with leather seats have heated seats--no one could stand the leather in winter otherwise, some even have cooling in summer to get rid of the stickiness.

I had my test drive today in a leather-seat Model S. No way will I getting leather.

jerry3 | August 18, 2012

No way will I be getting leather (an edit feature is really needed).

Mark E | August 18, 2012


Not sure what you are dong to damage the leather. The 22 year old leather in my 928 isnt cracked, nor is the 12 year old leather in my wife's BMW.. (& this is in the Australian sun.

I prefer it to material seats, and found it easy to clean and maintain in comparison.

Sudre_ | August 18, 2012

My 2001 Saturn leather with heated seats is hold up just fine. It is my construction sight work car and I have not cleaned the interior since 2003... I think. The steering wheel is really worn but the rest is doing really well, very dirty but in good shape. The back seat transported my 13 year old Lab/shepard mix until this year and they are also in good shape.

jerry3 | August 18, 2012


I'm not really sure either, but I haven't had much success with leather.

Teoatawki | August 19, 2012

My 2001 Dodge Durango has leather seats, and they've held up very well, despite my total lack of care or treatment.

Andrew18 | August 19, 2012

I guess Jason has disappeared and flown to heaven!

modelsboy | August 24, 2012

It's a great review. However, I find the comparison Tesla Motors to Apple is insulting to Teslar Motors. Apple basically just improved existing technology and made it accessible to a lot more users. Apple didn't invent the computer, the touchscreen, the UI, just improved them. In contrast, Tesla Motors created new amazingly high performance electric drivetrain, get put a lot of energy into the battery pack and deliver the power and torque that no one said possible. This is a real engineering feast. Apple = improvement of existing technology to make devices easier to use. Tesla Motors = inventing new technology that is clean, more powerful and more pleasant to use than existing technology. Apple should only be credited with clever marketing tactics and not with engineering. Tesla Motors developed technology and engineering and is a real inventor. Comparing Tesla Motors to Apple Computer is insulting to Tesla Motors, I believe.

SMOP | August 25, 2012

lol modelsboy....good one!

ChasF | August 26, 2012


I am a huge fan of Tesla and appreciate what they are doing, but lets keep it real; the comparison to Apple is a fair one.

"Invention: a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment"

You are correct that Apple has not invented anything new, but have only improved on existing technology. In other words, they have innovated. What their ability to innovate has done, however, is to revolutionize several markets.
This is exactly what Tesla is on the cusp of doing. Electric cars have been around for 100 years. Nothing new here. Tesla is improving on the packaging of this technology in a way that could change the automotive industry forever!

Apple - most innovative and valuable company in history. Nothing insulting about that comparison.

jerry3 | August 26, 2012


I agree. Apple's value-adds are: build quality (every time I have priced other equipment, once you put the same quality parts in the price is the same or more as Apple's), software (look and feel), infrastructure (Apple B&M and online stores), and user environment (the interoperability between the Apple products).

Tesla's value-adds are really the same: build quality (okay, the jury is still out on this one but if half the rhetoric happens that will be a pass or better and signs are that build quality is improving--gaps between the body panels appear to be the main area of concern), software (look and feel), infrastructure (Tesla stores, service centres, rangers, and online support), and user environment (another area where there isn't the experience to determine pass or fail. I expect over the first two years at least there will be frequent updates to add features that time didn't permit for the initial cars).

Leofingal | August 26, 2012

+1 Chas and jerry3.

I do believe that the AC induction motor was in fact invented by Nikola Tesla. The batteries are made by Panasonic. I doubt Telsa makes their own inverter.

What makes a great product is not the invention of new technologies (well sometimes it is) but recognizing when the right combination of new and emerging technologies create the right combination of attributes to disrupt the existing marketplace.

Apple did not make the first mp3 player, but combined the small form factor hard drives that were about to come out with a good user interface. The rest is history.

What Tesla has done is combine existing technologies in a clever way to make them effective as disruptive to the market. I strongly suspect without pressure from Tesla there would be no electric vehicles available on the market in 2012 or 2013.

jerry3 | August 26, 2012


Tesla makes their own motor. I've never heard one way or the other about the inverter but to have it match up I suspect they make the inverter as well--or at least assemble the components.

The battery cells are made by Panasonic. The battery is made by Tesla.

I agree that Telsa is leading the market and other companies are reluctantly having to hedge their bets.

ggr | August 26, 2012

"Apple has not invented anything new." Tell that to Samsung, they can ask for their billion dollars back...

Leofingal | August 26, 2012

Application and software patents are out of control in my opinion (as the holder of several of my own!). Application patents are for the idea of combining different ideas to create something "new". IMHO this has gotten just a bit out of control over the last 15 years (did you know that lots of people have patented the FFT? - well at least using one for a special case...). It is easy to understand that someone might think using an FFT to calculate the frequency of a signal is somewhat obvious, and certainly it should be to someone "skilled in the arts", but there are many cases of this out there. Combine several public arena technologies, usually thoroughly published, and voila you have a patent!

My colleagues and I were recently discussing this, and for the most part, patents have become obsolete based on the rapid rate of change in technology.

I suspect that if patents went away, companies would use trade secrets, and get that head-start. Is the idea of a touchscreen taking multiple touch points really novel, or is it really just an obvious extension of technology enabled by the underlying touchscreen technology?

And don't get me going on Trade Dress... Are softened corners on icons really something you can sue someone over?

Anyhow, this isn't isolated to Apple, it seems like all corporations have become patent trolls of late, and the result is that everyone patents every possible feature they can think of just in case someone uses that idea and they can pounce.

The only people that really benefit from this crap are the lawyers that are paid to run the patents through the system, and go after other companies.

I strongly believe that all this patent trolling will start to piss off Apples potential customers, and they will lose way more than $1B in market opportunities by tarnishing their reputation as a pioneer, and instead being the big bad corporation that everyone likes to see fail.

It's hard for me to watch these lawsuits and say, wow, Apple sure is using their resources to make the world a better place with better technology interaction!

ChasF | August 26, 2012

I stand corrected.

Apple's patents would constitute inventions I suppose. The combination of various components/technologies in a way that provides a unique and original experience would align with "process" in Websters definition.

The point is still the same: Tesla and Apple are doing the same thing.

jerry3 | August 26, 2012


I agree. The main thing that patents do is keep the big guys big and the little guys little. Generally, the big players have acquired enough patents that a patent war results in mutual annihilation but if the big players decide that the little guy is getting to be they just shut him down.

However, I'm not really happy about Samsung selling knock-offs. The average person (who's not a techie) can't tell the difference between the two (other than the user experience should they get to try both). I have a friend who's non-technical and a couple of month ago he told me that he received an iPhone from the company he works for. He also complained about some problems. When I actually saw the device I told him that wasn't an iPhone but just a knock-off. He was surprised to learn that the iPhone was only from Apple. I suspect there are a lot of people like that out there.

Leofingal | August 26, 2012

Wow, I'm actually a bit surprised that they couldn't tell the difference, but I am a techie. Are you sure they weren't just falling into the "Kleenex" for tissue trap?

Anyhow, it seems like the i-phone is capping out. The only major change on the 4S was Siri, which it seems not so many people like. I just saw an article comparing it to the Microsoft paperclip lol.

The next big change will be a really big change I think, where the handset goes away altogether (at least from a user interface standpoint). We'll see what company gets that first.

jerry3 | August 26, 2012

Leofingal -- Are you sure they weren't just falling into the "Kleenex" for tissue trap

Yes, my friend was actually surprised to find out that it wasn't an iPhone.

-- Anyhow, it seems like the i-phone is capping out

The bean counters have taken over. It will take another visionary to move to the next level. I don't think that there are any of those at either Apple or Samsung, and certainly none at that other company.

Robert22 | August 26, 2012

You mean something like this? I don't think they've totally given up on it yet:

Probably not the best solution if you're a cerumen hypersecretor ;)

Timo | August 26, 2012

@ChasF Apple's patents would constitute inventions I suppose.

I don't think any of those patents that were in question in Samsung vs Apple constitute as inventions. Patents there were made to prevent anybody else using same kind of ideas in their products, most of those were so obvious that nobody else than Apple just thought they should be patented. Like that multiple touch point touch screen. That's not Apple invention, but they have patent for it.

Real criminal in Samsung vs Apple patent issues was the patent office that gave patents to those things and whole patent system. I agree with Leofingal that "Application and software patents are out of control". Someone just recently tried to patent winking smiley ";-)" here.

brianman | August 26, 2012

"99" -> "1999"
"00" -> "2000"

Was patented as well.

jerry3 | August 26, 2012

-- I agree with Leofingal that "Application and software patents are out of control".

I think everyone agrees with that statement, Timo. Originally patents were meant to protect the little inventor but that didn't last long. But it's not a new problem. Look at the number of barbed wire fence patents issued in the mid-1800s--over 500 of them. Another example is that Hollywood was started because the independent film producers wanted freedom from Edison's patents.

Brian H | August 27, 2012

Actually, patents were intended to prevent "trade secrets". Their theoretical purpose is to make ideas and devices widely available (after a minimal reasonable delay) by making the patent sufficiently specific that anyone "skilled in the (relevant) arts" can reproduce it. Part of the reason for requiring submission of actual prototypes.

Those wanting to truly remain exclusive for as long as possible often thus don't patent, just rely on secrecy. Reverse engineering is their enemy.

Often, it's just "time" for an invention. The car, phone, radio, etc. were multiply invented. Bell, Marconi, etc. just won "footraces" to the patent office.

TM's PEM may be genuinely new.

dborn | August 27, 2012

As i understand it, the PEM is manufactured in Taiwan. I saw this in writing somewhere a long time ago, but really have no idea where, however it was on an official Tesla site.

Timo | August 27, 2012

That could have been case for Roadster, but I don't think it is the case with Model S, at least it would feel weird for them to outsource that part.